Punahou’s Tamatoa Falatea stands out at Poly Bowl

Punahou's Tamatoa Falatea broke free from Team Mauka's Noa Pola-Gates for a 20-yard touchdown reception during the Polynesian Bowl. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Perhaps the Polynesian Bowl, a high school football all-star game that matches the best Hawaii has to offer with the rest of the nation’s top talent, was made for players like Punahou’s Tamatoa Falatea.

Falatea was selected to the game due to his production on the field for the Buffanblu. In his senior season, he caught 74 passes for 1,057 yards and 11 touchdowns en route to Star-Advertiser All-State first team honors at wide receiver.

Despite the numbers, Falatea says he still has no scholarship offers. He ended his prep career with a strong showing at Aloha Stadium on Saturday, putting Team Makai on the board first in a 27-7 victory over Team Mauka.

“It was a great experience. It was a great week to come out and compete against the best,” Falatea said. “The main thing was just having fun and spending my last high school game in front of all my family in the state I grew up in. I’m very blessed.”

During Polynesian Bowl week, Falatea turned heads with multiple touchdown catches during practice sessions. He carried that over to the game when he hauled in a 20-yard score from Casteel (Ariz.) quarterback Gunner Cruz with 4:27 left in the first quarter.

Falatea finished with four receptions for 52 yards, second highest on the team behind Orem’s (Utah) Puka Nacua, who had 93 yards and six receptions while taking home offensive MVP honors.

When asked if his college stock may have risen due to what he showed throughout the week, Falatea says he wasn’t thinking along those lines.

“I’m not sure what it did to my stock honestly, we’ll have to see what happens,” Falatea said. “I just came here to have fun and represent my family.”

Polynesian Bowl week is now over. Some players will fly back home while others may require just a short ride. When the nation’s best prep football players converged on Oahu, Falatea showed he wasn’t out of place.

“You can’t have fear, you gotta just go out there and have fun and compete,” he said. “When the ball’s up, you gotta want that and make it yours.”

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